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Houston To Host 2021 World Table Tennis Championships

Apr 19, 2021

​Houston To Host 2021 World Table Tennis Championships

United States and China will commemorate 50th anniversary of the Ping Pong Diplomacy

HOUSTON – International Table Tennis is finally coming to Houston.

The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority is pleased to announce that the International Table Tennis Federation’s 2021 World Table Tennis Championships, which were originally awarded to Houston, then postponed due to the pandemic, will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center November 23-29.

This the first time the event will be hosted in the United States and it will commemorate the 50th anniversary of an event dubbed Ping Pong Diplomacy, which wound up changing the world.

The city will welcome the best table tennis players in the world to Downtown Houston for the six-day event, which is currently being planned for no spectators and will follow strict COVID-19 safety protocols. All events will be held in the GRB, which means all the action from the Championship Finals will be held General Assembly Theater.

Houston is ready.

“It is fantastic that in this difficult time of the pandemic we can give a really positive news to all table tennis fans and the World,” said ITTF President Thomas Weikert. “The first World Table Tennis Championship in the USA in Houston, Texas – and moreover in the 50th anniversary year of Ping Pong Diplomacy. We are all looking forward to an extraordinary, amazing event.”

“What better way to showcase the sport of table tennis than hosting the ITTF World Championships; we couldn’t be more excited,’’ said Harris County – Houston Sports Authority CEO Janis Burke. “It will be a special week for everyone involved to be a part of one historic moment and commemorate the other. What a tremendous way to introduce more players to the sport.’’

The ITTF Championships is just one of the international championships the U.S. will be hosting in the lead-up to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

“We are thrilled to partner with USA Table Tennis and the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority to welcome the World Table Tennis Championships to the United States for the first time,” said Susanne Lyons, President, United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

“The USOPC will work collaboratively with the organizers to celebrate the competitors and competition and provide necessary logistical support for all participants.”

Fifty years ago, the USA Table Tennis Team arrived in China for a friendly Table Tennis exchange in 1971. But it was really so much more since it brought the USA and China to the table, thus establishing diplomatic relations.

The slogan for the event was the Chinese athletic slogan “Friendship First, Competition Second’’ and eased diplomatic tensions enough to allow President Richard M. Nixon to travel to Beijing in 1972.

In November, the two countries will commemorate that moment in the most diverse city in the United States.

“We are overjoyed that the World Table Tennis Championships are being held in Houston,’ said Virginia Sung, CEO of USA Table Tennis. “Not only will it mark the first time the U.S. has hosted, but the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy adds an additional layer of significance.”

“Once again, we will have the opportunity to celebrate our great international sport in the spirit of inclusion and to demonstrate our shared sense of humanity as we look toward the future.”

Houston has an up-and-coming table tennis community and a rich history of hosting some of the top events in the world. Houston has hosted three Super Bowls, two NCAA Final Fours, the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2015 World Weightlifting World Championships. The city is also under consideration as one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup.

“We know that the City of Houston and Harris County-Houston Sports Authority will deliver an extraordinary event for all of us with their exceptional hospitality and professionalism,’’ Sung said.

The ITTF Championships were originally awarded the Houston at the 2019 ITTF Annual General Meeting and World Championships in Budapest. At the same time, the Chinese Table Tennis Federation was awarded the 2022 Championships, which will be held in Chengdu. Houston and China collaborated in what was, essentially, a joint-support bid.

The United States and China agreed to support each other’s efforts with these back-to-back championships, with Houston and China both getting support from former Houston Rockets player, Yao Ming, as well as Nixon’s grandson, Christopher Nixon Cox.

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